Iwata Ruri (b. 1951)
“But glass remained basically foreign to the Japanese, something that had no roots in indigenous culture. So only artists prepared to take risks used it, artists with a decidedly Western orientation – in other words, those who were notably open-minded and progressive…One important pioneering glass artist began his career in the inter-war period: Toshichi Iwata. Thanks to his son Hisatoshi Iwata and his granddaughter Ruri Iwata, the Iwata dynasty has continued to play a major role in Japanese glass.”
Symposium “Quo vadis? Glass art in the age of globalization” 25/5/2006 – 27/5/2006 Helmut Ricke: Japan: A Dialogue between West and East
Iwata Ruri is the third generation of her family to work in glass. Her grandfather, Iwata Toshichi, is acknowledged as establishing glass as an art medium in Japan where there was no pre-existing tradition. Toshichi also taught internationally renowned glass artist Fujita Kyohei. Ruri’s father, Hisatoshi, consolidated the position of glass in the Japanese art world and with her mother, Itoko, they internationalized Japan’s glass art. Itoko was recognized as a leading international authority on glass and was a life member of the American Glass Society.
Toshichi adapted the new medium of glass to the aesthetic of the Japanese practice of tea. Hisatoshi continued this but experimented with sculpting glass, adding copper to create matte material, contrasting this with translucent glass in a variety of vessel shapes. Ruri’s work goes way beyond that of her illustrious father and grandfather and embraces the medium in its full plasticity– she weaves sensuous sculptures in glass. She creates a range of magnificent ‘wrapped’ glass vessels, weaving matte and translucent glass of different colours in astounding technical and aesthetic virtuosity. Ruri has extended her practice to large-scale monumental sculpture using glass with concrete and metal in major public installations.